In this report, you will hear directly from 2023 participants about their leadership and a multitude of other skills they have developed. We are excited for you to read about the work VYCC crews completed in 2023, all of which increase resilience across Vermont. Thank you for your support in creating opportunities for young people to take action, gain skills, and connect with the natural world.

View the report here

Those who know and love Vermont are likely aware of the dual forces of an aging population and shrinking workforce. 

They also likely know there are several strong nonprofit organizations that work with young people.  

Four organizations formed a collaborative called Serve Learn Earn in 2021 to pool expertise and resources and to align programming so young people can move between the organizations to build skills. Those organizations are Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), ReSOURCE, Vermont Works for Women (VWW), and Audubon Vermont. Each provides training, service, and work opportunities for young adults.  

When we work together, we can do more for Vermont. The collective impact of Serve Learn Earn partners is now available at servelearearn.org. As Kate Gluckman, SLE Director noted:

“The launch of our new website means we can share more widely stories of impact, as well as feature partner organizations and upcoming training opportunities. Through the site we will highlight our continued efforts to empower our young people and those sidelined from quality employment through skill building, personal development, and connection with caring instructors and ready-to-hire employers.”  

VYCC, ReSOURCE, VWW, and Audubon Vermont work with over 550 Vermonters annually, providing over 4,250 weeks of training and service opportunities. In the last year, participants earned over 300 industry-recognized credentials of value, college credit, and over $2 million dollars in wages and stipends. The various programs under the SLE umbrella can kickstart careers and set young adults on the path toward well-paid jobs in the state.  

Meanwhile, Vermont sees the benefit of skilled and engaged young adults with a desire to remain here. Many internship and service experiences turn into or lead to job offers. 

Numerous VYCC Members have opted to remain and work in Vermont over the years. Like Claire Scherf (pictured above), who served as a Food and Farm Leader in 2023 and then joined us as a fulltime staff member. Or Petra Castaneda, who moved all the way from Arizona to join a Forest Crew last season, and is now working in early childhood education in Vermont. These are just two of the many stories that illustrate the impact of the programs within the SLE collaborative. 

Visit the brand new SLE website at servelearnearn.org to learn more and stay on top of SLE news!  

What would it look like if high schoolers could earn money, build community, be outside, and make a difference all in one? 

Paid service experiences at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps are designed for teens looking to make their summer meaningful and fun while earning money. Teenagers ages 15 and up can learn transferable skills and spend their summer outdoors with peers. It’s more than just a summer job!

Read on to learn about VYCC’s Day Crews. Crews are groups of 6-8 Members and 1-2 Leaders, supported by experienced professional staff. No previous experience is required.  

To learn more about VYCC’s program and projects, visit the What We Do page on our website. 

Conservation Positions

All Day Conservation Crews will work on a mix of trail, habitat restoration, and water quality projects (with potential for some small carpentry projects). More detailed project information will be available as the season approaches. VYCC staff and Crew Leaders will teach day Members everything they need to know to be successful.  

Rutland Day Crew

Dates: June 17 – July 11

Hours: 8:00 – 4:30, Monday through Thursday

Compensation: $397

Age Requirement: 15-17

Improve mountain bike trails at Pine Hill Park. Work can include shaping trails and clearing plants away. This crew will also get into some local forests to remove plants that are unhealthy for the ecosystem. 

Woodstock Day Crew

Dates: July 15 – August 8

Hours: 8:00 – 4:30, Monday through Thursday

Weekly Compensation: $397

Age Requirement: 15-17

Improve Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park. Park staff works with this crew and has a variety of projects including taking care of trails. Past crews have also built fences and benches, spread mulch and stacked wood. 

Burlington Day Crew

Dates: June 17 – July 11 and/or July 15 – August 8

Hours: 8:00 – 4:30, Monday through Thursday

Weekly Compensation: $397

Age Requirement: 15-17

Make Burlington’s parks healthier. This crew will work in several parks in and around Burlington. Projects include improving trails impacted by flooding, planting trees, and removing invasive species (like honeysuckle and knotweed) by hand and with loppers.   

Food & Farm Positions

All Food & Farm Crews are based at our 12-acre organic farm in Richmond, Vermont.

Members work in farm fields and greenhouses to grow and harvest vegetables. Every Wednesday, we pack the harvest into Health Care Share boxes for delivery. Members take turns preparing lunch with the most recent harvest.  

We’re working on a plan to provide free transportation to and from Burlington and/or Winooski. If your teen is interested but transportation is a challenge, please encourage them to apply and we will be happy to discuss options. We will also pick up Members at the Richmond Park & Ride.

AmeriCorps Day Crew Member 

Dates: June 17 – August 15  

Hours: 8:00 – 4:30, Monday through Thursday 

Weekly Compensation: $373 

Age Requirements: 17+  

Session Day Crew Member 

Dates: June 17 – July 11 and/or July 22 – August 15

Hours: 8:00 – 4:30, Monday through Thursday 

Weekly Compensation: $367 

Age Requirements: 15+  

Applications are open. Head over to https://www.vycc.org/join-us/positions to apply today!

What Else Should You Know?

VYCC is about more than making a difference for the environment and earning money. It’s an opportunity for youth to: 

  • Find a sense of purpose 
  • Learn how to work well on a team 
  • Connect with the natural world 
  • Persevere and overcome challenges 
  • Be part of a supportive and inclusive community 
  • Develop their skills toward a future career 

As Cole, a 2023 Conservation Youth Crew Member, put it: 

“It’s intense work but it’s very rewarding. You get to spend all day outside, working on making your local parks a better place to be and a better place for the environment. It’s been awesome. And it is hard work.” 

If this all sounds like something you and your teen are excited about, bookmark our positions page and sign up for our mailing list to be the first to know when positions open.

In three months, we get to start another program season.  
VYCC’s 39th, to be exact.  

Browse Vermont Youth Conservation Corps’ 2024 opportunities  

The VYCC team is excited to hear from folks who are thinking about conservation or sustainable agriculture work for the very first time. We have paid positions for folks ages 15 and up that do not require special skills or experience.  

We are also looking forward to welcoming past Members and Leaders back for another season. After all, VYCC’s programs are designed for growth. Returners can take on new challenges, and accumulate AmeriCorps Education awards and credentials.  

VYCC runs a Conservation Program and Food & Farm Program. Both are environmental education programs designed for youth ages 15 and older. These Vermont programs are great for young people interested in environmental stewardship, outdoor experiences, and leadership opportunities.

Here are reflections from two people who came back for a second VYCC season in 2023: 

Quinn Schoff (they/them), 2022 Food & Farm Member; 2023 Food & Farm Leader 

“Last season was my first time farming ever, so I was learning a lot of basics. Since coming back, I’ve been able to take that knowledge, share it with others, lead a crew, and improve my skills even further. Coming back a second season [allowed me] to learn and grow more in my own skills and knowledge.”

Lydia Yuhas (she/her), 2022 Conservation Crew Leader; 2023 Conservation Crew Leader 

“I came back to trail work after some time in outdoor education. This season, I had the absolute pleasure of taking a highline rigging course. VYCC provided it for me. It was intense but it was absolutely astounding. I got to use the highline and taught my Members how to use it on a high use, steep alpine trail. I’m really happy, now that I’ve got a lot more experience and new skills I can take into other jobs. Knowing that you can do something, and do it to the max, and do it fantastic is a really good feeling.”

We’ve just opened up positions starting in May 2024. They are alongside all positions starting in March:  

These include Conservation Crew Leaders, Food & Farm Leaders, and a Food & Farm Member position. Remaining Member positions will open after the New Year. 

VYCC is located halfway between Burlington Vermont and Montpelier Vermont.

Not for you? Share this with someone you’d recommend VYCC to! 

The ability of people and land to bounce back from challenges – resilience – has been a steady theme in 2023. The VYCC community worked through difficulties and completed projects that improve the resilience of land and communities.  

Projects increase resiliency. 

Projects at Lake Carmi and Joe’s Pond; and in Highgate, Montpelier and Cambridge prepared land along streams and lakes to absorb the increased rainfall expected with climate change. At these sites, Water Quality crews constructed 59 check dams, five fords, two staircases, and two rain gardens. They also planted 3,700 native trees and shrubs which will help capture carbon dioxide as they grow, and whose roots will stabilize loose soil and help to prevent erosion. 

Work on the Farm in Richmond continues its long-term effort to improve the health of our soil after years of nutrient depletion. Building healthy soils is a proven strategy to sequester carbon and weather droughts and heavy rains. Food & Farm crews employed crop rotation, cover cropping, chickens on pasture, and reduced tillage systems to build resilience on 12 acres of certified organic fields.  

Further, Food & Farm crews made our community health and food systems more resilient by getting fresh, nutritious food to 418 families managing food insecurity and/or diet-related illness. Crews distributed the food they grew to 13 towns including Barre, Berlin, Burlington, Littleton (NH), Montpelier, Northfield, Newport, Plainfield, Richmond, St Johnsbury, South Burlington, Waterbury and Winooski. 

Forest Health projects made space for native and more climate-resilient trees to grow, improved habitat for birds and animals, and increased the overall health and resiliency of forests. Crews completed patch cuts, brush management, invasive species removal, and crop tree release in 12 Vermont communities including Dorset, Jeffersonville, Pownal, Providence Island, Putney, Richmond, Rochester, Shoreham, West Haven, Westminster, Wolcott, and Woodstock. 

Pro Forest Crew Leader Eva Tillett is an alumnus of two other youth corps. Eva reflects on her season with VYCC: “There was no busy work. Every project made a difference. Every project was intentional.” 

Members are taking new skills with them.  

In their next endeavors, Members can continue improving water quality, forest health, agricultural soil health, and community access to food.  

Eva and her crew (below left) completed Game of Logging levels one through four at the start of their season in April. She adds: “We just learned another new skill in early October: we learned how to use a grip hoist to approach hazard trees. The first one we did, in the training, took four hours. The one we did this week took 10 minutes. I was so proud of the crew for learning this new skill.” 

Members’ next steps 

As if it wasn’t enough to complete projects and gain skills to do more conservation work going forward, Members and Leaders also moved their career goals forward this year by earning credentials, college credits, and/or AmeriCorps Education Awards.  

Eva shares: “I’m leaving VYCC with a lot of certifications, new skills, and a better understanding of how a manager should operate.” 

VYCC had a blast hosting 15 inquisitive participants on campus as part of Open Farm Week on August 8th. Vermont news station WCAX joined in and put together a video featuring the East Monitor Barn restoration (check it out below!). Open Farm Week, organized by DigInVT and partners, offers the public the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” on a multitude of Vermont farms. Each farm offers a unique experience—guests can do anything from meeting farmers, to milking a cow, to enjoying wood-fired pizza.

Attendees of our event got an insider’s look at the veggie fields, the West Monitor Barn, and the Farm Barn. They heard from staff about the Health Care Share and food programs and enjoyed a delicious farm fresh lunch of pasta and veggie-ful sauces made by Corps Members. They also donned hard hats and entered the active East Monitor Barn restoration site.

Lead Restorationist Eliot Lothrop chatted with the group while they watched folks prep the ground floor for a concrete pour (a big moment in this phase of the restoration!). Eliot described his path to working on the barn, the history of the site, the amazing progress thus far, and next steps—check out our other blog posts on those topics on the East Monitor Barn site if you haven’t already.

WCAX Feature

In conjunction with the tour, WCAX chatted with VYCC Executive Director Breck Knauft about the scope and the purpose of the East Monitor Barn restoration. To see footage of the barn in the current stage of restoration and hear Breck’s take on the project, click play below! To read the full article and view a separate video about the Health Care Share program, click here.

Thanks to strong community support, and to the dedication of Corps Members willing to work hard to make a difference, projects are getting done.

The weather has not made it easy. We are happy to share that crews have remained safe through heat, poor air quality, and heavy rains. The team at VYCC has moved crews into and out of the field as needed to prioritize health and safety.

Summary of Recent Events:
In early July, Vermont experienced significant flooding events. Before the first bout of flooding, we brought all camping crews to safe and high ground at VYCC. While they waited for roads to reopen, Conservation and Farm Crew Members teamed up to harvest all our garlic before it was lost. They also harvested beans, washed cabbage, worked with chickens, and packed Health Care Shares.

Farm crews delivered 390 Health Care Shares on July 13 by creatively routing around multiple road closures.

On July 13 and 14, we celebrated 4 weeks of working and learning together with the land. Some crews departed for a planned break week; others had finished their 4-week session.

On July 18, our Executive Directors – Breck and Leah – reached out to Governor Scott and the Secretaries of several state agencies to outline ways VYCC might be able to help Vermont recover from flooding, both in the short- and long-term. We look forward to getting to work in affected communities as needs align with VYCC crews’ skills.

Farm crews delivered 415 Health Care Shares on July 20.
All conservation crews are back in the field completing planned projects.

Support Corps Members’ work with a gift: https://www.vycc.org/donate

Conservation Crews have completed several projects that are already improving the health of our waters, forests, and trail networks. Here are a few highlights from the first month of summer crews:

New Bridge in Williston

Multiple improvements to Colchester Pond Loop Trail:

Maintenance on Waterfall Trail in Woodstock:

New Rain Garden (& more) in Highgate & Lake Carmi:

This is really worth checking out. A Water Quality crew completed some amazing erosion control work in Highgate with our partners at the Franklin County Natural Resources Conservation District:

https://www.franklincountynrcd.org/post/district-completes-erosion-mitigation-project-protecting-missisquoi-river-tributary

This crew and partner also worked together to make some big improvements along Lake Carmi through Lake Wise Camp Projects. Details here:

https://www.franklincountynrcd.org/post/protecting-lake-carmi-with-lake-wise-camp-projects

Read our next post on the flooding events in July: https://www.vycc.org/our-work-boots-are-on-updates-from-recent-floods/ 

There’s a lot going on in late April around VYCC. Members and Leaders are applying for jobs, solidifying their plans, and spring crews are getting started.

Here’s a glimpse of Farm & Forest work in April, and the people behind it:

Food & Farm

Many hands are waking up the farm. Leaders, staff and volunteers have been busy in the propagation house and market garden (that’s the plot between the two barns). Farm Leaders arrived in late March and have been making huge contributions to the land, and to our VYCC community!

Each Leader has a distinct role. Here are perspectives of four of the twelve 2023 Farm Leaders:

Claire has worked on a number of farms through her school years, from small family farms to wholesale vegetable production. “Lately, I’m passionate about pasture raised livestock, rotational grazing and diversified production. I’ve done a lot of solo farming and I’m curious about the power of what a lot of people can do together. I lived and worked as the only farmhand on a family farm, during COVID, isolated in northern Vermont. I loved it, but I think everything is better with other people. Having someone to help lift heavy things and bounce ideas with.”

Expressing appreciation for the experience of living where you work, Claire offers: “There’s something special about waking up there, drinking the water, eating the food, seeing the weather. It’s more than just driving there every morning – when it’s your home. And the team is more than just your coworkers.

After spending last season with VYCC’s Food & Farm Program, Quinn worked at a farm in Huntington over the winter. They tended and cleaned storage crops like butternut squash and potatoes, and delivered to local co-ops. “Doing deliveries is interesting, especially after a snowstorm in a box truck.” After learning that winter farming can mean being inside a barn all day every day, Quinn is glad to be back: “I’m happy to be in a different environment.”

Christine will lead a crew of high school aged Members this summer. She participated on a summer Food & Farm Crew two years ago, and came back because “VYCC has a supportive environment. It’s a good place to learn leadership skills. I like that Leaders do the work with the crew, and we will eat together.” In addition to providing guidance to Crew Members, Christine is looking forward to a longer season, starting with learning how to get crops going from seeds in the propagation house: “Seeding is new for me. There’s still so much to learn. VYCC is an endless learning opportunity.

Dominique grew up in a pizzeria, surrounded by a culture of food with her family – so it’s exciting to welcome her into the role of Food & Nourishment Lead, where Members and Leaders will have a chance to cook with her in the commercial kitchen.

Working for her aunt, a private chef who specializes in farm-to-table and Lebanese food, Dominique rolled so many grape leaves her hands turned green. She also studied environmental science, and says: “The crossover of food systems and sustainability is where I’m most fascinated. I’ve done research with farmers, but haven’t gotten to work on a farm yet. As I figure out how to use my degree, farming is the piece I need experience with. I can’t learn farming from a book. I was drawn to VYCC for hands-on farming experience and making food accessible to the surrounding community. Nutritious food. That element is missing from so many food access programs.”

Also, know that Dominque loves salad. Even as a kid she’d say “you can take away my friends but don’t take away my salad.”

Pro Forest Crew

A few weeks ago, the Pro Forest Crew was out of sight and earshot from the farm. Tucked into the woods uphill from the East Monitor Barn, the crew completed Game of Logging levels 1, 2, and 3.

Three members of the crew previously worked together at another corps running chainsaws. Eva (she/her, Crew Leader) and Mike (he/him, Crew Member) are two of them. Here is how they describe their week with VYCC and Game of Logging:

They told us that in their previous job, they earned a US Forest Service training and certification. The Game of Logging training builds on the skills they came to Vermont with; and “by class three, I was totally set. It was all coming together.

“The instructor, Kyle, was so experienced. Not only were we learning textbook stuff, but getting career advice that he picked up over time. When we were felling trees, Kyle was really close. He had so much confidence in us. It helped us when we were learning to drop hazard and difficult trees.”

“We were scored the whole time, and the two crew members new to sawing came out on top!”

Mike’s favorite moment of the training: “I felled the biggest tree I’ve felled in my life. It felt amazing. It reminded me why I decided to come up here. I loved it. It’s so exhilarating.”

You can keep up with all VYCC’s happenings – projects and the people completing them – through our email newsletter. We do not sell or trade addresses. Get stories from the field once or twice a month. Sign up here: https://www.vycc.org/contact/join-our-mailing-list/ 

Excited about VYCC’s work? You can support us with a tax-deductible gift right here: Donate now

VYCC is designed for growth. Corps Members can complete multiple seasons to build skills toward careers, accumulate AmeriCorps Education Awards and college credit, and earn industry-recognized credentials.

We are excited to highlight a few of the folks who are returning in 2023:

Whether someone returns after a only few months away like Quinn, or circles back after several years like Bo, VYCC loves to welcome Corps Members back.

Want to see more inspiring people? Check out VYCC’s 2022 Gratitude Report, capturing the year’s highlights: Gratitude Report